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How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

Josh Hendrickson is the Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read more.

Selling a home is a time of many choices: what to keep, throw out, and what to leave. If you have a smarthome, you need to consider what you do with your tech before putting your house on the market.

Always Speak to a Realtor Before Deciding What to Do

Generally, when you’re selling a house, you should speak to a realtor. While some exceptions exist where selling your home on your own is advantageous, a realtor can walk you through the ins and outs of negotiating, following rules and local laws, and filling out the necessary paperwork.

Before you do anything, talk with your realtor and let them know you have a house with smarthome gadgets. Make a list of what you have, what it does, and whether it’s attached to the home, and go through it with your realtor. They may not be familiar with all your devices, so be ready for explanations. Anything not attached probably won’t add value to the house, so you’ll likely keep them or toss them. But your realtor might be able to advise otherwise if they’ve noticed that smart bulbs have improved a sale, for instance.

And that’s the benefit to a realtor, they can advise you on what the local homebuyers have preferred. While some people may see smarthome technology as a benefit and reason to buy a house, others may see it as a detriment or intimidating. Even among tech-savvy buyers, smarthome technology comes with data privacy questions that may put off house shoppers.

The point is, your realtor is likely to have a better gauge of the local market than you are, and if they advise you to keep or remove certain items, you should listen. Your goal is to categorize your smarthome tech into three groups: things staying, things going to your new house, and things you are throwing away.

If you’ve kept all the boxes for your tech, use that to make piles for things you want to take with you, leave behind, and throw away.

Decide What Isn’t Staying and Remove It Before Listing Your Home

In most places, anything attached to the house (via screws, nails, glue, etc.) is considered a fixture and stays with the house when it sells. So if you have gadgets like smart thermostats, outlets, and light switches, if you show the house with them, it can be expected that they will stay.

If you don’t want to sell your house with specific smart gadgets you own, either because you like them or your realtor has advised against them, you should remove them from your home before the first showing. And doublecheck the listing to ensure it doesn’t mention the devices you intend to keep.

Try to consider ease of use and set up as well, if you found installing and configuring a particular smarthome item incredibly frustrating you may not want to leave it (or take it with you). Anything that never performed as well as you hoped fits the bill for removal too; the idea is to enhance the home after all.

Replace anything you remove with a non-smart equivalent—especially locks, thermostats, outlets, and switches. Failing to do so would put off potential buyers and cause issues during the inspection phase. Having the house in the state you plan to give to the buyer will go a long way to prevent any confusion and problems down the road.

For electrical work, consider hiring professional help rather than doing the work yourself. An electrician, for instance, will make sure your house is up to code, which can help avoid unpleasant surprises during the inspection phase.

If you want to keep something but you don’t want to remove it from the house while you’re selling it, communicate that it isn’t coming with the house. A realtor will help you list this in writing and in the home listing to avoid any confusion and trouble down the line, which is one more reason to work with a real estate agent.

Highlight the Gadgets That Stay

If you decide to sell your home with any smarthome devices, use them to help your house stand out. Consider putting together graphics that show energy savings found, or the benefits of timed smart lights. Draw the buyer’s attention to the unique features of your house.

Just be careful not to go overboard and leave them intimidated. You could consider a quick video that demonstrates the ease of use. If you point out that a smart thermostat is more straightforward to program than a traditional thermostat, buyers may find value in having it present.

And if you have any routines that automate your lights to give the appearance of being home when you’re away (randomly turning lights on and off), make sure to disable them. You wouldn’t want the routines to fire while visitors are touring your home.

Factory Reset Anything You’re Leaving or Throwing Away

If you’re getting of rid of smarthome devices because you’ve decided not to sell them with the house (or take them with you), be sure to factory reset them. You don’t want to leave your data for someone else to find. You can take care of this step even before listing your home.

However, if your smarthome devices are part of the sale, don’t factory reset them right away. While you’re still living in the house, you can continue to benefit from the technology, and you want it fully functional for buyers to see and experience.

The time to factory reset the devices you leave is when you move out and turn over the keys to your home. Make a list of every item that stayed behind (or refer to your box pile if you made one), and factory reset them one by one. Again, you don’t want the new owners to have access to your data, but just as importantly factory resetting will put the new owners in a good position of using the devices when they move in.

If you have boxes and instruction booklets, leave them somewhere easy to find and communicate that location to the new homeowner when you turn over keys. If you threw out the boxes and instructions, it would be helpful to put together a list of manufacturers and websites so the new homeowner can find online documentation.

Selling your home is a complicated, drawn-out process with many decisions to make. In some ways, the easiest thing to do when it comes to your smarthome stuff is to remove it all. That’s less to deal with and less to work through. But before you do, definitely speak with the realtor to make sure you aren’t losing out on a more significant sale price in the process. And whatever you do, put together a plan and list all the steps you need to take out. You don’t want to hand over the keys to your old house and later realize the Nest thermostat is still on your account.

Disclaimer : These sites are listed for informational purposes only. US EPA does not endorse any of these entities nor their services.

Why Donate or Recycle Electronics

Our Certified Electronics Recyclers page explains what it means to be a certified recycler.

Electronic products are made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Donating or recycling consumer electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials.

For example:

  • Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.
  • For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

Before Donating or Recycling Your Used Electronics

  • For your computer or laptop, consider upgrading the hardware or software instead of buying a brand new product.
  • Delete all personal information from your electronics.
  • Remove any batteries from your electronics, they may need to be recycled separately.
  • Check for recycling facilities in your state or community.

Where to Donate or Recycle

Manufacturers and retailers offer several options to donate or recycle electronics. Search below to find programs developed by Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge participants. EPA does not endorse any of the participants or their products and services.

Search by Electronic Device or Company

The following links exit the site

Offers in-store, event, online, and haul away recycling options

Offers free drop-off locations

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

Offers in-store and event recycling options

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

Offers in-store and event recycling options

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

Offers permanent drop-off site, mail-in and event recycling options

Offers permanent drop-off site and event recycling option

Offers mail-in recycling options

Offers mail-in recycling options and permanent drop-off site in some states

Offers mail-in recycling options and permanent drop-off site in some states

Offers permanent drop-off site recycling option

Offers permanent drop-off site recycling options

Offers mail-in recycling options

Offers permanent drop-off site, event, and haul away recycling options

Offers in-store, permanent drop-off site, and event recycling options

Offers mail-in, event, and permanent drop-off site recycling options in many states.

Josh Hendrickson is the Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read more.

Selling a home is a time of many choices: what to keep, throw out, and what to leave. If you have a smarthome, you need to consider what you do with your tech before putting your house on the market.

Always Speak to a Realtor Before Deciding What to Do

Generally, when you’re selling a house, you should speak to a realtor. While some exceptions exist where selling your home on your own is advantageous, a realtor can walk you through the ins and outs of negotiating, following rules and local laws, and filling out the necessary paperwork.

Before you do anything, talk with your realtor and let them know you have a house with smarthome gadgets. Make a list of what you have, what it does, and whether it’s attached to the home, and go through it with your realtor. They may not be familiar with all your devices, so be ready for explanations. Anything not attached probably won’t add value to the house, so you’ll likely keep them or toss them. But your realtor might be able to advise otherwise if they’ve noticed that smart bulbs have improved a sale, for instance.

And that’s the benefit to a realtor, they can advise you on what the local homebuyers have preferred. While some people may see smarthome technology as a benefit and reason to buy a house, others may see it as a detriment or intimidating. Even among tech-savvy buyers, smarthome technology comes with data privacy questions that may put off house shoppers.

The point is, your realtor is likely to have a better gauge of the local market than you are, and if they advise you to keep or remove certain items, you should listen. Your goal is to categorize your smarthome tech into three groups: things staying, things going to your new house, and things you are throwing away.

If you’ve kept all the boxes for your tech, use that to make piles for things you want to take with you, leave behind, and throw away.

Decide What Isn’t Staying and Remove It Before Listing Your Home

In most places, anything attached to the house (via screws, nails, glue, etc.) is considered a fixture and stays with the house when it sells. So if you have gadgets like smart thermostats, outlets, and light switches, if you show the house with them, it can be expected that they will stay.

If you don’t want to sell your house with specific smart gadgets you own, either because you like them or your realtor has advised against them, you should remove them from your home before the first showing. And doublecheck the listing to ensure it doesn’t mention the devices you intend to keep.

Try to consider ease of use and set up as well, if you found installing and configuring a particular smarthome item incredibly frustrating you may not want to leave it (or take it with you). Anything that never performed as well as you hoped fits the bill for removal too; the idea is to enhance the home after all.

Replace anything you remove with a non-smart equivalent—especially locks, thermostats, outlets, and switches. Failing to do so would put off potential buyers and cause issues during the inspection phase. Having the house in the state you plan to give to the buyer will go a long way to prevent any confusion and problems down the road.

For electrical work, consider hiring professional help rather than doing the work yourself. An electrician, for instance, will make sure your house is up to code, which can help avoid unpleasant surprises during the inspection phase.

If you want to keep something but you don’t want to remove it from the house while you’re selling it, communicate that it isn’t coming with the house. A realtor will help you list this in writing and in the home listing to avoid any confusion and trouble down the line, which is one more reason to work with a real estate agent.

Highlight the Gadgets That Stay

If you decide to sell your home with any smarthome devices, use them to help your house stand out. Consider putting together graphics that show energy savings found, or the benefits of timed smart lights. Draw the buyer’s attention to the unique features of your house.

Just be careful not to go overboard and leave them intimidated. You could consider a quick video that demonstrates the ease of use. If you point out that a smart thermostat is more straightforward to program than a traditional thermostat, buyers may find value in having it present.

And if you have any routines that automate your lights to give the appearance of being home when you’re away (randomly turning lights on and off), make sure to disable them. You wouldn’t want the routines to fire while visitors are touring your home.

Factory Reset Anything You’re Leaving or Throwing Away

If you’re getting of rid of smarthome devices because you’ve decided not to sell them with the house (or take them with you), be sure to factory reset them. You don’t want to leave your data for someone else to find. You can take care of this step even before listing your home.

However, if your smarthome devices are part of the sale, don’t factory reset them right away. While you’re still living in the house, you can continue to benefit from the technology, and you want it fully functional for buyers to see and experience.

The time to factory reset the devices you leave is when you move out and turn over the keys to your home. Make a list of every item that stayed behind (or refer to your box pile if you made one), and factory reset them one by one. Again, you don’t want the new owners to have access to your data, but just as importantly factory resetting will put the new owners in a good position of using the devices when they move in.

If you have boxes and instruction booklets, leave them somewhere easy to find and communicate that location to the new homeowner when you turn over keys. If you threw out the boxes and instructions, it would be helpful to put together a list of manufacturers and websites so the new homeowner can find online documentation.

Selling your home is a complicated, drawn-out process with many decisions to make. In some ways, the easiest thing to do when it comes to your smarthome stuff is to remove it all. That’s less to deal with and less to work through. But before you do, definitely speak with the realtor to make sure you aren’t losing out on a more significant sale price in the process. And whatever you do, put together a plan and list all the steps you need to take out. You don’t want to hand over the keys to your old house and later realize the Nest thermostat is still on your account.

New technology always brings new products and gadgets from time to time. So what do you end up doing with your old gadgets?

Where Does Your Electronic Waste Go?

All electronic waste is made up of deadly chemicals such as lead, cadmium, beryllium, mercury and brominated flame retardants. Disposing of gadgets and devices improperly increases the chances of these dangerous chemicals contaminating the soil, polluting the air and leaching into water bodies.

When e-waste is deposited in a landfill, it tends to leach when water passes through it picking up trace elements. After which the contaminated landfill water reaches natural groundwater with increased toxic levels, this can be harmful if it enters any drinking water bodies.

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

Despite having an eco-friendly approach, recycling usually leads to overseas shipping and dumping the gadgets which are buried in pits. Worse still is the fact that some recycling companies ship e-waste to third world countries and disguise it as philanthropy.

A lot of children in such countries earn their livelihoods by scavenging gold, silver, iron, and copper from the tech waste which is harmful to their health. Countries that are used as dumping grounds usually have high rates of cybercrime as the salvaged hard drives can give criminals direct access to your personal files and information.

Here are some are some eco-friendly waste disposal techniques that you can use to dispose of electronic waste locally:

5. Give Your Electronic Waste to a Certified E-Waste Recycler

The positive aspect of e-waste recycling is that you have quite a few recycling options.

You need to find an e-waste recycler who is officially certified by the Basel Action Network (BAN). BAN is a non-profit organization of recycling companies which are dedicated to recycling e-waste in a safe and responsible way. All members have to make a pledge and display their Pledges of Responsible Recycling. So working alongside a certified recycler means that you don’t have to worry about polluting another nation or risk losing your personal details to criminals.

Precautions to Take Before Donating or Recycling Your Electronics

  • Upgrade your computer instead of simply replacing it
  • Format all your personal information from your products before discarding
  • Take out the batteries from your gadgets before getting rid of them

4. Sell Off Your Outdated Technology

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure as the old saying goes. This can be applied to helping you get rid of your old electronics. You can tap into online sites like craigslist, eBay or even resort to having a garage sale as this will help you get rid of your outdated electronics as well as earning some money. Examples of this are old Nintendo video games which can sell for as high as $40 a piece. Most electronic shops are always ready to buy your old electronics.

3. Donating Your Outdated Technology

Old gadgets that you no longer need can be donated as they may be useful to others. Your old computer may be useful to either an NGO or students. You should ask yourself these 2 questions before disposing of your old electronics:

  • Is the electronic item working?
  • Does the computer have any of your personal information?

A lot of organizations and businesses offer electronic donation programs which you can choose from.

2. Visit Civic Institutions

Enquire amongst your government, universities, and schools for any recycling programs they run as a lot of organizations have started assigning a certain day and place for environmentally conscious citizens to come and drop off their e-waste.

1. Give Back to Your Electronic Companies and Drop Off Points

A lot of electronic companies tend to have an exchange policy whereby they take back your old gadgets when you buy a later version, sometimes offering you a discount on your new purchase.

A few recycling companies have set up electronic drop off initiatives along with drop off points for products such as cell phones and tablets after which they are recycled. You can ask your local electronics shops regarding any information about drop off locations.

Safeguard Both the Environment and Your Sensitive Information

Electronics are an important part of our lives today but the flipside is the e-waste that comes along with it. So make sure to format your electronic devices before disposing of them in a proper manner as the consequences of not doing so can be painful.

Author Bio

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardwareErich Lawson is passionate about saving environment by effective recycling. He has written a wide array of articles on how modern recycling equipments can be used by industries to reduce monthly garbage bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment savings techniques by visiting Northern California Compactors, Inc blog

Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile. Read more.

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

You’ve decked out your house with all of the coolest smarthome products, and now you’re moving. What should you do with all those sweet smarthome gadgets?

It’s easy to get comfortable and settle down in a new house (and you should!), but there’s always the possibility of moving in the future—even if you think you’re in your forever home. If you ever do decide to move, there are a whole host of things you have to do, but what about all your smarthome gear? There are a couple options at your disposal, as well as some things to keep in mind for the future.

Leave The Gear and Use It As a Negotiating Tool

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

Smarthome devices are expensive, and if you’ve decked out your entire house with all sorts of fun smarthome toys, that’s thousands of dollars of extra value added onto your house, which can make for a great negotiating tool when it comes time to sell.

Of course, it really depends on the buyer and whether or not they’re even interested in smarthome devices in the first place. But if so, you may have the upper hand when it comes time to negotiate the final price for your crib, and there are several different ways you can handle it.

The easiest way would be to negotiate a specific amount of cash that you would want from the seller in exchange for all your smarthome gear, or you could just include it in the price of the house. Be prepared to provide an itemized list of every smarthome device, and don’t be surprised if the buyer wants to negotiate each device one by one.

Keep in mind, though, that using your smarthome devices as a negotiating tool really only works if the buyer is even interested in all that stuff in the first place. If you have a buyer who could care less, you either have to take the loss or just uninstall everything and bring it with you to your new house.

Take It All With You

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

The last thing you probably want to think about when selling your house is taking the time to undo all that hard work that you did installing your smarthome devices, but if you couldn’t come up with an agreement with the seller, it’s probably for the best.

If you do this, you’ll still want to talk to the buyer about whether it’ll be your responsibility or their’s to replace any of the smarthome devices with their dumbhome counterparts. Switching back to regular light switches or thermostats are a good example of this.

Again, there are several ways you could negotiate this, such as having the buyer pay for the replacements and time to replace them, or just leaving it all bare for the buyer to take care of themselves. Do be aware, though, that in some area, it’s the seller’s responsibility to fix anything that is considered attached to the home. Leaving a heating and cooling system without a working thermostat might just not fly.

Always Have an Exit Strategy In Mind

When it all comes down to it, it’s best to always keep the future in mind and assume that you may have to uninstall some of your smarthome devices down the road.

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

When my wife and I were shopping for our first house, our real estate agent always told us to have an “exit strategy.” That is, since it’s our first house, it probably won’t be our last, so it’s important that we do things to the house to improve its resale value once we decide to move on to a better house in the future.

The same can be said when you’re installing all your smarthome devices, albeit in a different sense. For example, when you’re installing your smart thermostat, smart light switches, or anything else for that matter, always ask yourself questions like: “How can I make it easier for myself or the next homeowner when this might need to be uninstalled?”

And if you’re drilling holes into the wall to run cable for cameras or other stuff, it’s always a good idea to keep it as clean and up to code as possible in case you or the future owner of the house decides to remove any of those things—the last thing you want to do is scramble to fix a mess you created in order appease the inspector when you sell your house.

It’s also probably a good idea to save any of the old components—like dumb switches or thermostats—so that you can reinstall them in the future rather than buying new ones.

Make Things Easier for Yourself from the Start

I know it can be tempting to change out all of your light switches with nifty smart versions and run hardwired security cameras all over your house, but there are other options out there that are easier to install (and uninstall if that time comes).

For example, instead of wiring up smart light switches, you can opt for smart bulbs instead. They’re as easy to change out as a screwing in a light bulb—literally. They can be a bit more expensive than smart light switches, but when it comes time to move, it’s a lot less work you’ll have to do.

You can also use battery-powered security cameras instead of running power cables all over the place. Netgear’s Arlo Pro system is a great choice and the battery lasts a solid few months on a single charge.

In the end, it’s up to you how you want to put together your smarthome, and a lot of it depends on how handy you are with certain tasks (like wiring and various DIY stuff). Just keep in mind that you may not be living in that same house forever, and think about how your smarthome gear could be affected when it comes time to move out.

The old hard disk drive is disintegrating in space. Conception of passage of time and obsolete technology

Over the past few years, there have been numerous reports, and studies about how second-hand devices that have been put up for sale still contained information from previous owners, exposing those individuals to scams, blackmailing, or identity theft.

This week, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a division part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has published an official advisory with instructions and recommendations for properly deleting data from electronic devices that a user wishes to dispose of in one form or another.

These instructions are universal and can be applied to computers, smartphones, tablets, cameras, media players, external storage devices, and even gaming consoles.

Many of these recommendations are also common knowledge for IT industry veterans, but the guide was also written with non-technical users in mind. So let’s take a deep dive into the proper device sanitization procedures.

1. Backing up data

The first –and pretty obvious– step before attempting any device sanitization operation is to back up your data. We won’t go too deep into this one. There are various methods and software that can help you with that. Any cursory Google search will unearth hundreds of tutorials for backing up data from almost any type of device, from PCs to gaming consoles.

2. Deleting data

This second step might sound simple, but it’s not. Deleting data might not be as trivial as it sounds, and sometimes deleted data still hangs around, depending on your device and its OS quirks, and data may reside in memory cards you forget to pull out of the devices you sell.

  • Computers – Use disk cleaning software designed for your OS to permanently remove the data stored on a computer hard drive or other attached storage mediums to prevent the possibility of recovery. There are plenty of open source tools for performing a “secure erase,” but some operating systems also come with built-in tools. Check step 3 for some links.
  • Smartphones and tablets – Ensure that all data is removed from your device by performing a “hard reset.” This will return the device to its original factory settings. Each device has a different hard reset procedure, but most smartphones and tablets can be reset through their settings. In addition, physically remove the memory card and the subscriber identity module (SIM) card, if your device has one, before giving away or selling the device.
  • Digital cameras, media players, and gaming consoles – Perform a standard factory reset (i.e., a hard reset) and physically remove the hard drive or memory card.
  • Office equipment (e.g., copiers, printers, fax machines, multifunction devices) – Remove any memory cards from the equipment. Perform a full manufacture reset to restore the equipment to its factory default.

It is advised that users don’t sell or give away devices that still contain their old memory cards. Memory cards should be pulled from any device. But if you have to, it’s advised to delete any data from those cards as well. Attaching the memory card to a card reader or through the device itself, and then connecting it to a PC will let users securely wipe the card.

3. Overwriting your old data

But just deleting your data isn’t usually enough. Leftover information can still reside in unallocated storage space. Forensics software can help buyers or new owners investigate old devices for any data that was left over on a device’s storage.

To prevent attackers from recovering any old files, it is recommended that users overwrite storage devices with random binary data.

Windows has a built-in utility that can do this, named cipher.exe, but users can also use the “format” command with special parameters.

Macs also have a built-in feature to securely wipe and overwrite any attached storage, while on Linux there a tool named shred that can help users delete and overwrite data with one command.

Don’t forget. Don’t just overwrite hard drives. This operation can also be performed on USB thumb drives, memory cards, network attached storage (NAS) devices, and other storage systems.

4. Destroying

If you’re selling or handing down your device, this step is obviously optional. But if you’re working for a company or performing a Mr. Robot-like wipe down, here’s what US-CERT recommends in the case you need to physically destroy your old equipment, for legal or compliancy reasons.

Physical destruction of a device is the ultimate way to prevent others from retrieving your information. Specialized services are available that will disintegrate, burn, melt, or pulverize your computer drive and other devices. These sanitization methods are designed to completely destroy the media and are typically carried out at an outsourced metal destruction or licensed incineration facility. If you choose not to use a service, you can destroy your hard drive by driving nails or drilling holes into the device yourself. The remaining physical pieces of the drive must be small enough (at least 1/125 inches) that your information cannot be reconstructed from them. There are also hardware devices available that erase CDs and DVDs by destroying their surface.

  • Magnetic media degaussers. Degaussers expose devices to strong magnetic fields that remove the data that is magnetically stored on traditional magnetic media.
  • Solid-state destruction. The destruction of all data storage chip memory by crushing, shredding, or disintegration is called solid-state destruction. Solid-State Drives should be destroyed with devices that are specifically engineered for this purpose.
  • CD and DVD destruction. Many office and home paper shredders can shred CDs and DVDs (be sure to check that the shredder you are using can shred CDs and DVDs before attempting this method).

A NIST guideline from 2014 also provides additional instructions, if you have the time to go through 64 pages of more technical information.

If not, the instructions put forward by US-CERT should be more than enough. The advice is sorely needed, as several studies and surveys from past years have proven that many users tend to forget to wipe data from their devices:

  • A 2010 survey revealed that 50% of the second-hand mobile phones sold on eBay came with files and data on previous owners.
  • A 2012 survey conducted by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) showed that one in ten second-hand hard drives still contained data from previous owners.
  • A 2015 study found that three-quarters of used hard drives contained data from previous owners.
  • A 2018 study by the University of Hertfordshire revealed that almost two-thirds of second-hand memory cards still contain data artifacts from previous owners.

I’m sure I’m not alone in having around 100 floppy drives sitting in my office, never to be loaded again. While it’s easy to shove them into a bin destined for landfill, that’s not the most environmentally friendly option. Here’s how to recycle floppy disks, how to extract data from them, plus a couple of intriguing alternative ways to deal with them.

First, do you want the data?

If you think there might be crucial data on your floppy disks, you can still buy external floppy drives – this one is Amazon’s recommended choice, for £9.

If that sounds like too much hassle, you can ship your drives to American company FloppyDisk.com. For a fee of $1.95 per disk, it will transfer data to a USB drive and post that back to you. Fear not, they accept floppies from all over the world, but you will have to pay for delivery (typically $5 to $10) on top of the $1.95 fee per floppy disk. The big downside is carbon miles.

Note, though, this isn’t a data recovery service – if there’s a problem with files on the disk, FloppyDisk will skip them. Tom Persky of FloppyDisk told us that they “succeed with 90% of the disks we get”, though, and they will always return the disks (usually at an extra $5 to $10 charge to cover international delivery) unless you specify you don’t want them back. If you don’t, it will recycle them for you and email you the files.

Note that whether you want the floppies back or not, and whether you’re based in the US or elsewhere, FloppyDisk will always charge a $9.95 handling fee. “We still impose the handling fee because it takes time to send the content, we need to maintain an inventory of the disks until the customer confirms receipt, and a significant number of customers need help in unzipping compressed files,” said Persky.

How to recover data from floppy disks

Cambridge Data Recovery in the UK is a proper data recovery service that charges significantly higher fees than FloppyDisk, but with the knowledge that it will try its best to rescue data where it can. You’ll spend £15 for the first floppy, £10 for each successive disk.

Obviously, at higher volumes, that could be expensive, so I contacted the company to find out if there’s any wiggle room. “For 20 disks I would expect us to charge around £7.50 each i.e. £150 total and for 50 disks around £6 each i.e. £300 total,” said Dr Dominic Wilson.

“When we get to 100+ disks in theory the cost would be around £500… but often in these cases the owner is not prepared to pay that much,” he said. At which point pragmatism comes into play. “I have one at the moment where we are charging around £2.50 per disk, but we are essentially not spending time on the problem files or problem disks and just skipping these – also at this cost other work takes priority, so we just fit it in when we can.”

Problems occur because many of the disks being sent to Cambridge Data Recovery are over 20 years old, which is reaching the limits of floppy drives’ archiving ability.

But there’s promising news if you own even older disks. “Sometimes we receive 5.25 inch floppy disks and 3 inch CF2 Amstrad disks – the costs are higher for these because the process involves older equipment and more stages to get it onto a modern computer, and also there is often file conversion involved to enable the files to be used on a modern computer.”

Once the work is done, Cambridge Data Recovery will either return your floppy disks or “securely dispose of them”. That means recycling the metal parts, while destroying the magnetic disk and plastic.

Don’t recycle floppy disks: sell them!

Yes, I can’t quite believe this either, but there is a market for old floppy disks. For example, as I write this, there are two bids for 73 used floppy disks on this Ebay posting. Total price £8.69, including postage. It takes all types.

If you choose to do this, carefully consider whether any data sitting on the disks might still be sensitive.

(Incidentally, if you’re curious, read this short BBC article about how floppies are still used in some industries.)

Turn floppy disks into a pen pot

Whether a cheap gift for a techie friend or just for yourself, it’s easy to turn five floppy disks into a pen pot. You’ll also need a drill and zip ties, but as this video shows the work itself is easy.

I’m less convinced by this blog that explains how to turn two floppy disks into a notepad…

Dissemble the floppy disk into its component parts

Chances are that your local recycling centre won’t recycle floppy disks. There’s every chance, though, that you can break it into its component parts. The metal, in particular, is eminently recyclable.

Full video below, but the key thing you’ll need is a flat-head screwdriver to split the floppy disk in half so you can access its innards.

Rat poison comes in handy if you need to eliminate rats from your home. Once they invade your property, rats can be a huge nuisance. They scamper around in search of food and in the process even eat your furniture and other items. Should they get into your pantry, your food supplies are no longer safe.

Rats carry bacteria into your house which creates health risks for you and your family. Once you realize you have rats in your home, quick action is necessary to check their presence. Various poisons are available on the market to help you effectively deal with the vermin. It is important, however, that you know how to dispose of rat poison after use. If not properly disposed of, the toxic chemicals in the poison could endanger your health. The poison can also become an environmental hazard. Some options are given below.

1. Trash Disposal

Inquire from your local trash company about how to dispose of the poison. They will give you information on collection times or guide you as to how the poison can be disposed of safely. It is vital that you separate the poison from other household trash. This helps to contain the hazardous effects of the poison once it is collected by the garbage company. Obtain a container and place the poison inside. Seal it with a cap that fits tightly to ensure the poison remains within. Place the container in a plastic bag to prevent any leakage during disposal.

2. Give to Neighbors

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

Quite likely, you’re not the only one with a rat menace. Talk to your immediate neighbors and find out if they also have rats. You could give the poison to your neighbors, if they’re interested, to help them deal with the rats. This way, you all benefit from rat eradication. It also helps you to remove the poison from your home.

3. Recycle

Inquire from your local waste company about recycling availability. They will advise you on how to package the unused poison before it can be recycled. They’ll also let you know if they’re able to pick it from your home or give you information on where you need to take the poison to be recycled.

4. Incineration

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

Some States allow incineration of hazardous materials. These may include rat poison. Call your local waste company to inquire about incineration. If local regulations permit, they will give you guidelines on how to incinerate the poison.

Safety Tips

Be sure to store the poison in a secure place before you dispose of it. Keep it away from places that are easy to reach for children and pets.

Do not dispose of the poison through the sink drain. The chemicals will end up in the ground and become an environmental hazard.

Wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well after you handle rat poison. It is also a good idea to change your clothes. This helps to clear any traces of poison that you may have picked up during handling.

Is it finally time to ditch that ‘80s-era legacy terminal system? Even if you’ve acquired your system more recently, it’s quickly becoming obsolete with the rapid rise of mobile point of sale systems, or mPOS. If you’re planning on upgrading your point of sale system to an iPad POS solution or other modern system, you’ll need to consider how to safely get rid of your previous point of sale solution and associated equipment, such as bar code scanners and receipt printers. Such equipment tends to be bulky and unwieldy to keep around, and it loses more value the longer you hold on to it.

In order to help finance the purchase of your new point of sale solution — or, if nothing else, clear some extra space in your shop, it’s time to ditch your old point of sale equipment.

Here are a few options:

Sell it.

In most cases, your retired point of sale hardware will still have value to somebody. You can list it for sale on an online marketplace, making sure to include all relevant details: In larger city markets, Craigslist may help you find the right buyer, but you might consider using an online marketplace like eBay to help you reach a more targeted audience. There are also a number of companies that specialize in buying and selling used POS systems, including DataMax, Barcode Trading Post, and ReSource Point of Sale.

Donate it.

There are many charities that enable you to donate your unwanted electronic equipment to schools and other groups in need — and you can write off the value of your donation (under its current depreciation rate). Goodwill will accept any electronics donations, and many local charities also enable you to donate used equipment. Or, while you won’t get a tax break, consider donating your unwanted point of sale equipment to a new business that needs the equipment to get started.

Recycle it.

If your equipment has broken down or is now so obsolete as to be essentially worthless, you may choose to simply get rid of it. However, there are strict laws against dumping electronics in the trash, so you’ll need to make sure that you are recycling your point of sale equipment properly according to your local e-waste laws. Check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Where You Live” resource to find out the local regulations for disposing of point of sale hardware and related electronic devices.

It’s time to get eco-friendly

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

  • University of Maryland Baltimore County
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Key Takeaways

  • Electronic waste (e-waste) is a serious environmental issue, since old electronics end up in landfills, leaking chemicals.
  • Less than 20% of e-waste is actually appropriately recycled.
  • Experts say to do your research on where to properly recycle your electronics, such as an ecoATM kiosk for smaller devices or an electronics store for larger ones.

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

While it’s second-nature for many of us to recycle paper and plastics, most aren’t recycling old electronics, and experts say electronic waste (e-waste) is hazardous for the environment.

According to a recent report published by Research and Markets, less than 20% of electronics are recycled safely, and most end up in landfills, leaking toxic chemicals that are detrimental to the environment and human health.

You probably have a drawer full of old iPhones or devices you haven’t touched in years, but it’s important to be aware of the impacts e-waste has on the environment, as well as how to properly dispose of old electronics.

“Over the last decade, rapid advancements in technology have not only transformed the way we live and work, but have also resulted in a massive increase in electronic waste,” wrote Dave Maquera, CEO of ecoATM, in an email to Lifewire.

“As a collective, first and foremost, we must educate ourselves, so we are aware of the extreme impact that our behaviors and purchases have on the environment and our communal health.”

Why Is E-Waste Bad?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), e-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America, but only a fraction of it is collected. The world produces as much as 50 million metric tons of e-waste a year, which weighs more than all the commercial airliners ever built.

Since many people don’t know what to do with old or unwanted devices, they end up throwing them in the trash, where they eventually end up in landfills. The problem is, unlike regular trash, electronics have specific components in them that can become hazardous.

“We must challenge each other to do better and be better, as every person on this planet contributes to a greater whole.”

“When electronics are improperly disposed of in landfills, these toxic chemicals are released into the air, soil, and water, causing increased pollution, contamination, and acidification,” Maquera said.

Some of these toxins even include lead, nickel, and mercury, which obviously poses a threat to not only the environment, but to humans as well.

“Ultimately, this toxification of the environment leads to increased respiratory health problems, contamination of crops, and unsafe water conditions for humans, animal[s], and plant communities alike,” Maquera added.

What Can You Do?

Enter ecoATM, which is trying to reduce the amount of e-waste with its kiosks in malls and stores, like Walmart and Kroger, located around the country. You can take your old smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, or other smaller electronic devices, drop them in an ecoATM kiosk, and receive a cash payment. The company does the hard part (recycling them) for you.

“ecoATM’s mission is to build a sustainable pathway to a better tomorrow,” Maquera said.

“It leverages technology to develop a safe and secure solution to help increase the recycling rate for electronics by offering convenience and an instant financial incentive for people to responsibly recycle used electronics.”

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

Maquera said to be sure to do your research first about where and how to dispose of your electronic devices. For example, for larger electronic household devices, such as TVs or stereos, he recommends reaching out to a certified e-waste hauler or recycler for more information on how to dispose of them safely.

Part of the responsibility also lies with tech companies, which could take steps to reduce the overall environmental impact of consumer electronics, he said.

“Large tech companies play a crucial role in the future of e-waste, and developing devices that are designed to last longer than only one or two years could make a massive difference for the environment,” Maquera said.

And although tech companies like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft have made climate pledges to hit “net-zero” greenhouse gas emissions within the next two decades, Maquera said that each individual must also make a conscious effort, especially as tech and personal devices become more interwoven into society.

“We must challenge each other to do better and be better, as every person on this planet contributes to a greater whole,” he said.

Steps to battery disposal and recycling

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

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While you should recycle lithium batteries at Home Depot or somewhere similar, you can toss some alkaline batteries in the trash. Learn how to dispose of old batteries for iPhones, PCs, and other electronics properly.

Discard Single-Use and Non-Rechargeable Batteries

The most common battery type is the single-use and non-rechargeable alkaline battery, which comes in AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, and button cell (watch) sizes. If you have alkaline batteries made after 1997, you may be able to dispose of those batteries with your other garbage as these don’t pose a toxic landfill danger under EPA standards. However, battery disposal requirements vary by state. New Jersey and Georgia are examples of states that allow alkaline batteries in the regular trash. In California, everyone must recycle all batteries.

Recycle Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries used in camcorders, smartphones, laptops, and other devices present additional toxicity issues if disposed of in the trash. As a result, rechargeable batteries must be recycled and not discarded with other garbage.

Common types of rechargeable batteries include:

  • Lithium-Ion (LiOn)
  • Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cad)
  • Nickel metal hydride (NiMH)
  • Nickel zinc (NiZn)

Before recycling, make sure you can no longer recharge the battery. If you wish to recycle a rechargeable battery that still accepts a partial charge, make sure you’ve run it down before recycling. If you don’t need the battery charger anymore, you should also recycle it.

Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries should never be placed in the trash or curbside recycling bins. These batteries could pose a fire danger.

How to Prepare Batteries for Disposal or Recycling

Before discarding your batteries, cover the battery contacts (especially the positive side) with non-conductive masking or electrical tape. Alternatively, put each battery into a small plastic bag so that they don’t touch other batteries. Doing this is especially important for units that may be leaking.

Use electrical tape since cellophane (or pressure-sensitive) tape is prone to static electricity and doesn’t always stick well. If you have several batteries, tape the contacts, then put the batteries in a non-conductive plastic or cardboard container for safe transport to a local electronics recycling center.

Where to Recycle or Dispose of Batteries

Check online for options in your location for disposing or recycling batteries. Enter keyword phrases into a web browser search engine, such as: “Recycle batteries near me” or “Recycle batteries (your city or county name).”

Earth 911 offers an online search engine for battery disposal and recycling locations.

Select cities or counties may also allow you to put old household non-car batteries into a plastic bag or container and place it separately on top of (or next to) the other weekly garbage or recycling container for pickup. There are national battery disposal and recycling options that may provide local drop-off points as well.

Stores Where You Can Recycle Batteries

Some of the following retailers take batteries to be recycled:

  • Best Buy (rechargeable only)
  • Home Depot (rechargeable only)
  • IKEA (also accepts alkaline and other single-use batteries)
  • Lowes (rechargeable only)
  • Office Depot (rechargeable only)
  • Staples (rechargeable only)

Look for local community e-waste disposal events and check if these events include battery recycling opportunities.

Battery Disposal Recycling by Mail

If you want to ship your old batteries to an outside location, here’s a listing of possible choices:

  • Battery Mart
  • Batteries Plus (also has some physical locations)
  • Battery Recyclers of America
  • Battery Solutions
  • Call2Recycle (also has some physical locations)
  • EZ On The Earth
  • Easypak (sells a container that you fill up with return shipping instructions)
  • Raw Materials (primarily Canada)

Some of these options are more appropriate for businesses that need to recycle large quantities or specialized batteries. These companies may not accept all battery types.

Extra Considerations For Recycling Batteries

Whenever possible, recycling is the best option since some batteries are dangerous for the environment. If you’re going to recycle batteries, keep these points in mind:

We all know it’s important to wipe our personal data before selling or discarding a computer. Do we have to worry about privacy when disposing of a printer?

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

The other day a reader asked me something I couldn’t immediately answer. “I know that, when you toss a dead computer, you’re supposed to make the person information that resides on hard drive inaccessible to the outside world,” he said. “I was wondering if this same issue arises when you toss a dead printer?”

We’ve known for years that some expensive, high-end printers and digital copiers may retain digital copies of documents. One researchers warned that the same might happen with personal printers, though he didn’t identify specific models. To get a handle on this question, I turned to M. David Stone, PCMag’s Lead Analyst for printers and scanners.

What Kind of Data?
“First, you need to make a distinction between types of data,” said Stone. “The important stuff for most people would be what you print, fax, or copy. Call that real data. The less important info would be stored email addresses and fax numbers. Call that contact information.”

“The only time any information stored on the printer can be an issue is if the printer has either an internal disk or non-volatile memory,” he continued. “I also doubt there are any with non-volatile memory for real data, but I can’t swear to it. There are some that can hold contact info in non-volatile memory.”

Telltale Signs
Stone pointed out that the presence of certain features might indicate the presence of onboard storage in the printer. Private printing, where the printer holds your document until you’re physically present, would seem to require local storage, as would the ability to reprint a file that you printed earlier. The ability to manage and re-order the print queue via the printer’s embedded Web page is another sign, as is an option to hold or forward incoming faxes.

If you really want to check for stored data, Stone suggests you unplug the printer, let it sit for a while, and plug it back in again. No local storage? Then the data will likely be gone. “Note that in some cases the printer may be using volatile memory with a battery backup,” added Stone. “If it is, this should be mentioned in the user guide.” In that case, he suggests leaving it unplugged for however long the user guide says is too long.

Even when your printer does have some of the telltale features mentioned above, it still may not be storing your print jobs. For example, my all-in-one has an option to store faxes rather than printing them, but setting up this option requires you to identify a network storage location to hold them.

Protect Your Email
Stone warns about a danger I hadn’t thought of. “Multi-function printers that include a direct email function (as opposed to the ones that call up a client on your PC), typically have you set up SMTP info, including your password, so you can send email from the printer’s front panel,” he warned. “If you’ve set that up, make sure you delete the password before you hand the printer to someone else.”

He also pointed out that these days most of the expensive printer models that do include a disk drive take privacy into account. “Almost all new models include a wipe disk function for decommissioning the printer, and most include disk encryption, so if you take the disk out of the printer you won’t be able to read the information stored on it,” he explained.

Last Resort
If you’re getting rid of a printer, it’s probably because the printer is either broken or too outmoded. It’s unlikely that there’s a hard drive inside, but if you’re truly junking the device, you can take some physical precautions. Open it up, poke around, look for anything remotely resembling a hard drive. If you find one, extract it from the printer, take it out to the street, and bang on it with a hammer until the insides rattle nicely. (This is very satisfying!). Now you can send the printer off for recycling without any privacy worries.

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How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

Scrap metal is one of the most valuable materials you can recycle, and it encompasses so many consumer products. From appliances to batteries to cans to clothes hangers, metal is everywhere in our homes. Recycling metal is important to not only keep this limited supply material out of landfills, but also because it can make you money.

Metal Recycling Preparation

  1. With scrap metal, the general rule is a product needs to be at least 50 percent metal. Even if that metal is surrounded by other materials like plastic, it’s worth recycling if it’s made mostly out of metal.
  2. If you have products with only a small amount of metal but it’s easy to remove, separate the metal. For example, a plastic three-ring binder is not scrap metal, but remove the metal rings and now you’re talking.
  3. Scrap metal is classified as either ferrous (containing iron, such as steel) and nonferrous (everything else). So, you’ll want to identify whether your metal is ferrous or nonferrous. The way to do this is with a magnet. Ferrous metals stick to a magnet; nonferrous metals don’t.
  4. Use Earth911’s recycling directory to find a scrap metal recycler, and contact the company or visit its webpage to find out current payouts and if there’s a minimum amount of material you need to bring.
  5. Most scrap metal recyclers will require you to bring identification when you recycle. This is to prevent people from stealing scrap metal (e.g., road signs, metal barriers) and selling it for scrap.

Find scrap metal drop-off locations near you using our Recycling Locator.

Why Recycle Metal

  • Metal is one of the few items that you can regularly recycle for money, although you’ll usually get paid by the pound. This makes it a great fundraising opportunity.
  • Nonferrous scrap makes up only 10 percent of the total material recycled in the U.S., but it earns more than half of scrap recycling revenue.
  • Metal is in limited supply, and while we can manufacture more glass and plastic from natural resources, we can’t make more aluminum, copper and steel.

Frequent Metal Recycling Questions

Can I recycle scrap metal in my curbside recycling program?

Most cities will only accept metal cans (aluminum and steel) in the curbside recycling program. Other metals are only collected curbside if your city provides bulky waste pick-up. You’ll need to call to schedule this pick-up and tell the hauler what you have — bulky waste pick-up usually accepts miscellaneous scrap (e.g., ironing boards, aluminum bats, silverware) as well as large scrap (e.g., appliances and electronics).

What types of metals can I recycle?

Common forms of nonferrous metal include aluminum, brass, copper, lead, nickel, stainless steel, tin and zinc. These are used to make musical instruments, wires and pipe, auto parts, keys, silverware and a variety of other products. Ferrous metal includes steel, commonly featured in household appliances.

How much money can I earn by recycling metal?

This all depends on the amount you have, as most scrap metal recyclers pay by the pound. Also, nonferrous metals are more valuable than ferrous metals. The most valuable metal parts you could recycle would be automotive (e.g., engines, batteries) that are almost entirely made of metal and very bulky. If you’re looking to recycle lighter items like cans or coat hangers, it’s best to wait until you have a large amount to optimize payment.

How is scrap metal recycled?

All metals eventually end up at a scrap metal yard, where they are separated by type. The metals are then crushed and compacted, non-metal components (such as plastics) are removed, and everything left is melted in a furnace into metal sheets. This metal is then used to make new metal products.

What are reuse options for metal?

If you have clothes hangers, you can take them to a dry cleaner for reuse. Many secondhand stores will accept and resell metal furniture, even if it’s in need of repair. You can also donate working appliances if they are not too old.

Profit from getting rid of outdated tech

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

  • Wichita Technical Institute
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While you can throw away or recycle old computers, why not make some quick cash from the equipment you no longer need (or want)?

This article will show you highly recommended places where you can trade in old computers. Don’t worry if you have private information on those old computers. Every one of the following services will wipe the hard drive after receiving it.

We recommend backing up your data and then erasing your computer’s storage before donating/selling/recycling/throwing the machine away.

Best Buy

Best Buy has a pretty extensive and well-known trade-in program that accepts a wide variety of computer brands and some lesser-known names like CyberPowerPC and iBUYPOWER. If your computer isn’t on the list, you can enter in the computer’s processor and RAM instead.

The website comes with a helpful trade-in calculator, which allows you to see how much you’ll be getting before bringing the computer to a store.

In-store trade-ins aren’t available at every location, but Best Buy does allow customers to mail in the computer to Best Buy. Best Buy will give you a prepaid shipping label to print out, but you must provide a box. Best Buy pays with a gift card for in-person trade-ins or an e-gift card if you ship it, which you’ll get ten days from when Best Buy receives the computer.

Apple Trade-In

If you have an old Mac lying around, you can take it back to Apple. The company has a trade-in program that pays with an Apple Gift Card. The company will give you a quote for your machine, which you then take into an Apple Store to trade-in or use a prepaid trade-in kit to mail in the computer.

The trade-in kit comes via the mail and has instructions on preparing your computer for shipment. Apple will also instruct you on how to move your Mac’s data to a new Mac, so nothing is lost.

And if you want to get an idea of how much you’ll get, Apple provides an estimated trade-in value on the program’s front page.

CanitCash

CanitCash will accept many different types of PCs and Macs and is quite flexible with its payment options. The website can pay you through either PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, or an Amazon gift card, to name a few options. Payments go out the same or the next day once the computer has been received and inspected.

The site will give you an instant quote and offers free insured shipping. Cainitcash will even pick up the package for free with no hidden fees attached. And if you happen to disagree with the evaluation, CanitCash will return the computer to you for free.

It’s Worth More

It’s Worth More is one of the most popular trade-in services on the internet, with thousands of positive reviews. It has similar services like instant quotes and a free pre-paid shipping label. It’s Worth More stands out with a bulk BuyBack program where you can send multiple computers and devices at once. Best of all, there’s free shipping.

The website has a great exchange rate offering hundreds of dollars for well-kept laptops. Upon checkout, you have the option to receive money via a paper check, PayPal, or Zelle transfer. While you’re there, It’s Worth More has an online store where you can buy certified used computers.

SellBroke

SellBroke will accept both working and broken computers and send a same-day PayPal or Google Pay payment or mail a check once the company receives the machine.

Quotes are instantaneous, and you can add multiple devices to a cart. Best of all, shipping is free, and you’ll get a prepaid shipping label sent to you via email.

SellBroke is known to pay handsomely for broken products. Even if a laptop has a broken screen and a defective hard drive can still be worth some money. Other services won’t accept a broken laptop.

E-waste is a growing environmental concern because the metals and chemicals in old electronics can leak into our soil and water. Sadly, just 20% of e-waste is recycled correctly.

To properly dispose of a computer battery, use Call2Recycle’s locator tool to find a battery recycling center near you. Anywhere that recycles computers should also take batteries.

Don’t throw your old keyboard in the trash. If the keyboard works, donate or repurpose it. If it doesn’t, recycle your keyboard at an e-waste facility.

Before recycling an old computer, make sure identity thieves can’t access your passwords, credit card numbers, and other private data.

By Timothy Dale | Updated Aug 6, 2021 7:05 PM

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

Our computers are treasure troves of personal information, including social security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and website logins and passwords. When we erase this data or reformat the hard drive with a data-wiping program, it’s possible that this information can still remain on the hard drive. For this reason, it’s important to remove and destroy your hard drive before recycling or donating your computer, but this isn’t as easy as just smashing it with a hammer. Read on to find out how to destroy a hard drive and keep your data protected.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Don’t begin this process until you have backed up all of the documents on the hard drive (including pictures and videos) that you want to keep. Move this data to a new computer or external hard drive, or upload it to a cloud storage service before destroying the old hard drive. If you don’t, the information will be lost and irretrievable.

STEP 1: Remove the hard drive from your computer.

Use a precision screwdriver to remove the casing from the computer and locate the hard drive—it looks like a slim, rectangular metal box. Once located, remove the hard drive from the computer.

Depending on the manufacturer, type of computer, and age of the computer, the type and number of screws that you’ll need to remove will vary. Cover your bases by purchasing a precision screwdriver set, which comes with screwdrivers in a variety of shapes and sizes.

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

STEP 2: Access the hard drive’s platters and circuit board.

Once the hard drive has been removed from the computer, you will then need to open up the metal casing to access the platters and the circuit board. This next step is important because removing the hard drive from the computer isn’t enough to delete the data stored on the platters, and if you don’t destroy the circuit board the hard drive may still be accessed.

The screws used to secure the hard drive casing are typically either flathead or Torx screws. Using the appropriate screwdriver from the precision screwdriver set, remove these screws and then remove the metal casing to reveal the drive’s internal components.

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

STEP 3: Remove the read/write arm, and scratch the platters with a screwdriver to destroy data.

A hard drive’s metal casing protects the internal components, preserving data stored on the platters, and when the casing is removed the platters are exposed. Platters are circular disks that look like CDs or DVDs, and spin rapidly on a center spindle. The hard drive’s data is recorded and read by a read/write arm that sits above the platters.

To access the platters, use a precision Torx screwdriver to remove the screws and take out the read/write arm. Lift the platters off of the spindle and use a screwdriver to remove the top layer of material from the platters. If scratching the platters with a screwdriver is too pedestrian for you, these disks can be destroyed in a number of other creative ways. You can use sandpaper, a rotary tool—fire, even—as long as the surface of the disk is scratched or burned off.

STEP 4: Break the circuit board.

Destroying the platters eliminates the stored data on the hard drive, but if you want to be extra certain your private information can’t be accessed, the next step is to remove the circuit board. A circuit board is responsible for operating the hard drive and typically has ROM, NV-RAM, or a chip that controls access to the drive. If this board is damaged or removed the hard drive can’t be accessed, regardless of the state of the platters.

To remove the circuit board, use a precision screwdriver to loosen any screws holding the board to the drive. Lift the circuit board off the drive and break it in half. When you do this, be sure you’re wearing protective eye gear. This will prevent small pieces of the board from getting in your eyes. You might also want to consider wearing thin work gloves to protect your hands.

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

STEP 5: Recycle the computer’s components.

After dismantling and destroying the hard drive, its components need to be recycled. The EPA lists several companies and programs that recycle old, used, and broken electronics. Local governments may offer electronic recycling programs to help reduce waste in the region.

Electronic waste, including your computer’s hard drive components, can take hundreds of thousands of years to decompose in a landfill. Though it might be a bother to load old computer parts into a vehicle and drive them to a recycling center, this is a more eco-friendly way to dispose of electronic waste than throwing it into the garbage.

Destroying a hard drive and eliminating stored personal data can keep you safe from potential identity theft and financial fraud. Removing and destroying the platters is the most important step in the process, but you may as well go the extra mile and break the circuit board to prevent any and all access to the hard drive. For safety’s sake, remember to use proper eye protection when breaking the circuit board (and consider wearing a pair of thin work gloves to protect your hands).

Recycling helps our environment in a number of ways including reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills, improving our natural resources, and preventing pollution. When you recycle materials, they’re reused instead of needing to waste energy and resources to make new product. If you throw away electronics , they can take thousands of years to decompose, which has a long-lasting impact on the environment. Electronic waste can also contribute to air pollution when it’s incinerated at landfills. At Hunter, we aim to be mindful of the environmental, too. So after you choose a new ceiling fan design for your space, what should you do with your old ceiling fan?

Are ceiling fans recyclable?

Which parts you can recycle from your ceiling fan depends on the recycling guidelines in your area. Some recycling centers will take the entire fan including the blades, metal blade irons, and remote control batteries. Others have stringent recycling guidelines and take limited parts. We recommend taking your old ceiling fan to your local recycling center to see what they can recycle from your ceiling fan.

Make sure to dispose of light bulbs properly as well. Incandescent bulbs can be tossed in the regular garbage but cannot be recycled because the wire filaments they include are too difficult to remove for glass recycling. The EPA recommends checking with your local recycling center for how to recycle light bulbs that contain mercury like CFL and fluorescent bulbs.

Donate old ceiling fans

The old adage says, “Reduce, reuse , and recycle.” So, if your area doesn’t accommodate ceiling fan recycling and the fan is still in good, working condition, consider donating your ceiling fan. Organizations like The Salvation Army or Habitat for Humanity can help find your old fan a new home.

Find your local donation center and call to confirm if they will accept your ceiling fan. You can typically drive up to a donation center, or sometimes they can arrange to pick it up from your home.

How to recycle ceiling fan packaging

After properly disposing of your old ceiling fan, you can continue your environmentally conscious efforts by recycling the packaging your new Hunter ceiling fan came in. We continue researching new, sustainable packaging techniques, but here are a few ways you can recycle your ceiling fan packaging now.

  • The box your Hunter ceiling fan comes in is recyclable. You can even double check the bottom of the box to check for the recycling symbol.
  • Depending on where you live and the plastic recycling that’s offered, you can recycle all the plastic bags that the hardware comes in.
  • As long as you take the staples out first, you can recycle the owner’s manual included with your ceiling fan. (If you ever need to look back at your manual, you can always find it online .)
  • Some ceiling fan packaging includes a pulp tray, which is 100% recyclable.

Upcycling your old ceiling fan

If you’re feeling crafty, consider upcycling your ceiling fan. Upcycling means taking the old or damaged parts of your ceiling fan and turning them into something useful like home décor pieces. A quick search of ceiling fan crafts on Pinterest will surely leave you inspired. Here are a few ideas that caught our eye:

  • This crafty idea uses the ceiling fan blades and painting blade irons to create a coat rack.
  • Use chalkboard paint on the ceiling fan blades, mount them in your kitchen, and use them to jot down your grocery list or phone messages.
  • Simply the light glass shades as a pencil holder for your home office desk or a candle votive.
  • Spray paint the motor housing to use as a planter. The center hole is the perfect size for small plants like herbs and succulents.
  • Use the bottom of the motor housing as the base for your own windchimes .
  • Paint the ceiling fan blades metallic and create your own sunburst mirror frame.

After recycling your ceiling fan, make sure to choose a new ceiling fan that’s energy efficient to continue helping with your environmental footprint. Hunter continues to innovate new ways to help engineer energy efficient ceiling fans, from outfitting them with integrated LED light modules that last longer than light bulbs and motors that optimize air velocity .

How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

To determine what kind of battery you need, follow these steps.

1. Determine which component needs a battery

If your control panel is emitting a low-battery noise, figure out which security element is the source of the problem. Some common security components that might run on batteries include the following:

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How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

2. Call the monitoring center to alert a representative that you will be changing batteries

Alarm monitoring companies may flag the system as having been tampered with if you start removing batteries from components. Letting the monitoring center know you’ll be changing the batteries can prevent an unexpected visit from the police.

3. Determine what type of replacement you need

At this point, you’ll be able to determine what type of battery the device needs. In general, the only components that might require special batteries are the control panel and keypad. Alarm system control panels often take large 12V batteries. The keypads of smart security systems might use a special battery pack, although many older keypads just take AAs.

Any other components are likely to use AA batteries or the round, flat batteries often used in watches.

To help you find the right battery, we’ve listed the batteries used by popular security brands on these pages:

4. Purchase and install a replacement

After you figure out which type of battery you need, you can head to the store to pick up the replacement.

If you need a battery that your convenience store doesn’t carry, you typically have two choices: contact your home security company to order a replacement or take the battery to a specialty store to have them order one for you.

Once you have the right battery replacement, carefully remove the dead battery from the device—remembering to dispose of it properly—and install the new battery. You can then call the monitoring center to let them know the battery replacement is complete.

While changing a system’s batteries does add another step to security maintenance, many people gladly take on the responsibility to avoid dealing with hardwiring and power cords, which can make a system look more conspicuous.

Don’t toss them in the trash, but don’t toss them in the recycling bin, either.

Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET’s Smart Home Section, MTVNews’ tech section and for Live Science’s reference section. Follow her on Twitter.

It never seems to end. Each year you pull out strands of used lights and find out they don’t work. Before tossing them, try these easy tips for fixing Christmas lights . If that still doesn’t work, refrain from dumping them in the trash — and from your recycling bin.

How to recycle lights

Christmas lights can’t be recycled like plastic bottles or cans because they are made up of several different components, including glass, plastic and metal. If you’re a seasoned recycler, you know that you typically separate items made of different materials before you recycle them.

Don’t start pulling apart your light strands, though. Many recycling centers have special Christmas light collection sites where you can drop off duds to be recycled. For example, for those in the US, Denver Recycles in Colorado will collect and recycle holiday lights from Nov. 15, 2017 to Jan. 20, 2018 at a certain drop-off location.

In the UK, you can use the Recycle Now website to find local drop-off locations for your Christmas lights.

Some recyclers take lights year-round, and you may even make a little cash. For example, New Jersey’s Rockaway Recycling pays customers who bring in old lights by the pound.

Your best bet is to call your local recycling centers to find out who is recycling lights and when. Or you can google your town’s name + Christmas light recycling to potentially find out the information online.

Give them to charity

If you can’t find a place to recycle, there is a charity called the Christmas Light Recycling Program that takes old lights (including broken ones), recycles them and uses the money to buy books and toys for less advantaged children. All the toys and books are then donated to the DFW Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to be distributed.

In the US, you can mail light donations to: Christmas Light Source Recycling Program, 4313 Elmwood Drive, Benbrook, TX 76116.

EPA recommends that consumers take advantage of available local options for recycling CFLs, fluorescent bulbs and other bulbs that contain mercury, and all other household hazardous wastes, rather than disposing of them in regular household trash.

  • Recycling CFLs
  • Where to Recycle CFLs

Benefits of Recycling CFLs

Recycling prevents the release of mercury into the environment. CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs often break when thrown into a dumpster, trash can or compactor, or when they end up in a landfill or incinerator. Learn more about CFLs and mercury.

  • Other materials in the bulbs get reused. Recycling CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs allows reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights. Virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled.
    • Your area may prohibit disposal and/or require recycling. Some states and local jurisdictions have more stringent regulations than U.S. EPA does, and may require that you recycle CFLs and other mercury-containing light bulbs. Visit search.Earth911.com to contact your local waste collection agency, which can tell you if such a requirement exists in your state or locality. We are aware that the following states prohibit mercury-containing lamps from being discarded into landfills: The following links exit the site
      • California
      • Maine
      • Massachusetts
      • New Hampshire (PDF)
      • Vermont
      • Washington

    Where to Recycle CFLs

    The short answer is: visit search.Earth911.com to find out.

    • Waste collection agencies
    • Local retailers
    • Mail-back services

    Contact your local waste collection agency

    • provide services that are usually free, though some may charge a small fee.
    • sometimes collect household hazardous wastes only once or twice a year, so residents will have to hold on to their light bulbs until the collection takes place. Other collection agencies provide collection services throughout the year.
    • may also collect paints, pesticides, cleaning supplies or batteries.
    • usually accept waste only from residents, although some collection programs include small businesses as well.

    Visit your local retailers

    Many hardware supply stores and other retailers offer in-store recycling.

    Visit search.Earth911.com to find stores in your area or check the list below.

    Make sure you check directly with the store before you go; not all stores in regional or nationwide chains may participate, and some stores may recycle only certain types of bulbs (for example, a store may recycle CFLs but not 4-foot fluorescent tubes).

    Find out about mail-back services

    Some bulb manufacturers and other organizations sell pre-labeled recycling kits that allow you to mail used bulbs to recycling centers. The cost of each kit includes shipping charges to the recycling center. You fill up a kit with old bulbs, seal it, and bring it to the post office or leave it for your postal carrier. Websites that provide more information about mail-back services.

    • U.S. EPA does not endorse, recommend, certify, authorize or approve of these services.
    • There may be other similar services of which we are not aware.
    • We only provide these links as a convenience to our web visitors.
    • BakPak Mail-Back Recycling (NLR, Inc.)
    • bulbcycle.com
    • EasyPak from Lamprecycling.com (AirCycle)
    • EcoLights
    • Heritage Lifecycle Mailback Services
    • Lampmaster
    • RecyclePak from Veolia Environmental Services
    • Simple Cycle (Lamp Environment Industries, Inc.)
    • Think Green From Home (Waste Management Inc.)
    • WasteSecure (Universal Recycling Technologies, LLC)

    If your state or local environmental regulatory agency permits you to put used or broken CFLs in the regular household trash, seal the bulb in a plastic bag and put it into the outside trash for the next normal trash collection.

    For Businesses

    • View information about recycling and disposal requirements for CFLs and other “universal wastes” that apply to businesses
    • Learn how to establish a recycling program for mercury-containing light bulbs

    Other Types of Light Bulbs that Contain Mercury

    Follow the recommendations on this page if you need to dispose of another type of mercury-containing light bulb, such as:

    • Linear, U-tube and circline fluorescent tubes
    • Bug zappers
    • Tanning bulbs
    • Black lights
    • Germicidal bulbs
    • Fluorescent induction bulbs
    • High output bulbs, and
    • Cold-cathode fluorescent bulbs.
    • Metal halide
    • Ceramic metal halide
    • Induction
    • Plasma
    • High pressure sodium, and mercury vapor.

    Mercury short-arc bulbs; and Neon bulbs.

    Storing CFLs and Other Fluorescents

    Store fluorescent light bulbs in containers that prevent them from breaking, such as in their original boxes, boxes from replacement bulbs, or containers supplied by fluorescent light bulb recyclers. Recyclers generally require that the light bulbs arrive unbroken.

    Don’t put it in the microwave, don’t roast it on a spit, don’t soak it in acid, and don’t put it next to an industrial-strength magnet; the key is to make the drive’s platters unspinnable.

    Former CNET contributor

    Dennis O’Reilly began writing about workplace technology as an editor for Ziff-Davis’ Computer Select, back when CDs were new-fangled, and IBM’s PC XT was wowing the crowds at Comdex. He spent more than seven years running PC World’s award-winning Here’s How section, beginning in 2000. O’Reilly has written about everything from web search to PC security to Microsoft Excel customizations. Along with designing, building, and managing several different web sites, Dennis created the Travel Reference Library, a database of travel guidebook reviews that was converted to the web in 1996 and operated through 2000.

    I’m a confirmed pack rat. I’ve got stacks of old utility-bill statements dating back to the 1980s. Alongside the boxes of ancient paper records in our attic are about a half dozen old PCs. The jewel of my “collection” is an original 60-MHz Pentium PC, complete with the famous floating-point bug. Well, it was famous in 1994.

    One benefit of holding onto these PC relics is not worrying about their data falling into the wrong hands. (OK, I suppose a determined thief could break into our attic and walk off with the computer antiques, but I wish them luck finding the cables and peripherals required to bring the machines back to life.)

    Not everyone is so attached to their old electronic equipment as I am. You probably know that you need to completely wipe or remove the hard drives from your PCs before you donate or recycle them. How to ensure that the data on the drives will be out of the bad guys’ reach is another matter.

    (On a related subject, don’t ever let a computer repair shop hold onto your old hard drive if they replace it. And don’t believe them if they say they returned the drive to the vendor. If they give you this spiel, call the cops and demand that they return the old hard drive to you, right then, right there.)

    Free data-wiping program obliterates your data
    If you want to keep the drive usable but totally erased, use the free Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN), which comes in a version that runs off floppy disks and USB flash drives and another that runs off a CD or a DVD. The program’s interface won’t win any awards, but DBAN has a solid reputation among security experts.

    Attack the platter to render a hard-disk unreadable
    No matter how thorough a data-wiping program is, the only way to be certain that a hard-drive’s data is unrecoverable is by rendering the drive’s platters unspinnable. I’ve heard and read all kinds of methods people use to destroy an old drive, some of which are downright dangerous.

    Put it in a fire? There are lots of toxic chemicals in that gadget. Do you really want to be breathing them or otherwise releasing them into the environment? Microwaves are handy for destroying CDs and DVDs, but you’d have to cook a hard drive for a long, long time to blister the drive’s platters.

    Several Web sites suggest soaking the drive in diluted hydrochloric or muriatic acid. This might work, but you run the risk of burning yourself or breathing toxic fumes. Lots of people recommend breaking out the power tools and drilling several holes through the drive. You can achieve the same effect by pounding some nails through it, or simply by whacking the heck out of it with a hammer, sledge or otherwise.

    I’m normally a big fan of brute-force methods, for the vicarious thrill if for no other reason. But the goal is to make sure you can’t spin the drive’s platters. There’s a more subtle approach that achieves this, without necessarily requiring safety goggles.

    I found a great step-by-step tutorial written by David Gewirtz that describes how to disassemble a drive, remove the platters (and other components, including the drive’s magnets), and sand or grind the platter surfaces, which renders them unreadable.

    David’s method requires the use of TORX driver bits to remove the small screws holding the drive’s case in place. These can set you back about $20, but you might be able to save the money by using a large, flat-head screwdriver to pry the case off.

    David also suggests degaussing the platters by placing them between neodymium magnets before grinding their surfaces, which obliterates the data they hold. This strikes me as overkill, but I guess you can’t be too careful when protecting your private data. Making wind chimes out of the degaussed and sanded platters, as David’s wife did, is strictly optional.

    If a light bulb breaks off in the socket, don’t risk cutting or electrocuting yourself. Use one of these simple methods to quickly and safely remove a broken bulb.

    Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.

    Light bulbs break. It’s a simple fact of life that isn’t always possible to avoid. Fortunately, most newer bulbs come with a more substantial base that allows users to more easily remove the bulb from a socket, even when the glass breaks.

    However, if you haven’t upgraded from the old incandescent- or halogen-style bulbs, removing the broken bulb from the socket can be tricky. The upshot is that it’s easier than you think it is and, chances are, you already have exactly what you need on hand.

    Here are several ways to remove a broken bulb from a socket, quickly and safely.

    Before you start

    Prior to removing a broken bulb from a light socket, it’s wise to first cut power to the light source to avoid electrical shock. Simply turning off the switch doesn’t always do the trick. If a light is controlled by multiple switches, it can be difficult to tell if the light is actually off. To be entirely sure the power to the light is off, switch off the power to the light at the breaker.

    You will also be working with broken glass, which shatters and splinters very easily, so it’s recommended that you use eye protection and gloves when handling broken light bulbs.

    Pliers

    The tried and true method of removing a broken bulb from a socket is with a pair of pliers.

    For this method, the more intact the bulb, the better. Begin by cutting power to the light source. If the filament is still intact, use a pair of needle nose pliers to grip the glass base of the filament and gently twist counter-clockwise. There is a chance the base will break free from the threads of the socket and can be fully removed.

    There is also a chance of the filament breaking. If this happens, insert the needle nose pliers into the base of the bulb and open them as wide as you can. The tips of the needle nose pliers should be touching opposite sides of the base of the bulb. Hold the pliers open and turn them counter-clockwise and the base of the bulb should begin to unscrew.

    For added grip, you can wrap the tips of the pliers with electrical tape.

    Potato

    A potato could be your friend in the battle to remove a broken light bulb.

    One of the oldest tricks in the book is to simply use a raw potato.

    First, make sure the light switch is turned off. Use gloves, eye protection and a pair of pliers to break away any remaining glass. Cut the potato in half, firmly press it against the socket and begin twisting counter-clockwise. The potato should grip the base of the bulb and turn it while the socket remains still.

    Once the base is out, dispose of the bulb and potato.

    Melted soda bottle

    A soda bottle can also be used to extract a broken bulb from a light socket.

    Instructables user prabbit22m suggests removing the cap and seal band from the neck of a soda bottle, leaving just the exposed threads. Use a heat source, such a stove or lighter, to melt the tip of the bottle and shape it into a cone.

    Once the bottle has cooled, make sure power to the light is off and any remaining glass has been removed from the base of the bulb. Firmly press the bottle into the empty base of the light bulb and twist counter-clockwise while holding the pressure against the socket.

    Once removed, dispose of the light bulb base and, optionally, you can keep the bottle for future occurrences.

    Quick setting epoxy

    Quick setting epoxy paired with a screwdriver can also help remove a broken bulb.

    Sometimes, broken bulbs are in hard-to-reach places. When this is the case, you can also use some quick setting epoxy to remove the light bulb base from the socket.

    First, be sure to cut power to the light source and clean any remaining glass from the base. Next, Instructables user SpinningCone suggests mixing up a piece of epoxy putty and packing it into the bulb base. Once packed, press a flat head screwdriver into the epoxy, then remove the screw driver.

    After about five minutes have passed, the epoxy will have hardened and you can use the screwdriver to unscrew the base from the socket.

    Broken bulb extractor

    If you want to go the official route, you can find a broken bulb extractor at your local hardware store for around $10.

    The premise is effectively the same as all the above methods, as is the way it’s used. First, cut power to the light and safely break away any additional glass. Next, insert the broken bulb extractor into the base of the bulb, grip the handle to expand the tip of the extractor, and turn counter-clockwise.

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    The average iPhone will last three years or so before software is no longer able to keep up and the battery begins to fail. There are quite a few services out there to send the product in or turn it in in person, such as at an Apple store.

    Some devices can be exchanged for cash or a gift card, and some can simply be recycled. Even if you don’t get cash or a gift card, it is important to find a place to recycle properly. This article will cover ten great services to recycle old Macs and Apple devices – hopefully for some cash.

    1. Apple’s Renew and Recycling Program

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    Through the Apple Renew and Recycle program, you can trade in your aging device for an Apple Store gift card to put towards a new device or accessories. To get started with the process, you will have to answer a few questions regarding your device before an offer will be presented.

    2. eBay Valet

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    eBay has always been a go-to spot on the Web for used electronics and the like. If you do not have the time or know-how to list them yourself, you can always send your device to eBay Valet where photos will be professionally taken and where it will be listed on your behalf. In turn, you will receive a large portion of the final sale. In fact, for an item that sells for over $500, you will earn 80% of the sell price.

    3. Gazelle

    Gazelle will quote you an offer for your device online and then ship you a prepaid box. Place your restored device into the box and ship it off! Within a couple of weeks you will receive cash. In addition to selling, you can also buy used devices right from Gazelle.

    4. uSell

    uSell specializes particularly in buying your broken device to use for parts. If you are just trying to recover some quick cash from an old device gathering dust in a drawer, look no further!

    5. Facebook Marketplace

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    Use the Facebook Marketplace to list your devices and sell directly to consumers. This is by far one of the easiest ways to sell in your local area and maintain 100% of the profits. Downsides include having to meet potential buyers and having to go through the process of setting up and maintaining a listing yourself.

    6. Swappa

    On Swappa you can browse products based on the model and its overall quality. This, in turn, makes it easy to get started with selling your own items and giving them a proper categorization. Before even beginning the selling process, you can view the going rate for each device based on carrier and other qualifiers.

    7. SellYourMac

    What could be a better place to sell your Mac than SellYourMac.com? Get a quote on your device, ship it in with a prepaid label, and get paid over services like Paypal. It is straightforward and to the point, as it should be!

    8. Cash for Your Mac

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    Cash for Your Mac features a simple interface for selecting your product and answering a few questions about it. Once this is done, a cash offer will be locked in, which is then valid for 30 days.

    9. Gamestop

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    Take your device up to the nearest Gamestop for a quick inspection and quote. While these quotes may not be the highest around, it is definitely one of the quicker ways available for making some cash off of your old device.

    10. Nextworth

    Click a device category in Nextworth and follow the prompts to find the device’s value. Then ship with a prepaid label and receive payment via PayPal or check.

    Conclusion

    While you could simply drop off your used electronics at the nearest recycling location, there sure are a plethora of options out there to earn a bit of store credit or even cash back for your used list. Of the services listed, which have you had the best luck and return with? Leave us a comment down below.

    This article was first published in Aug 2011 and was updated in Oct 2017.

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    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    Last week we discussed what old tech we are reluctant to give up. That leads to the obvious question of what we do with those old tech devices once we finally decide they’ve served us well, but it’s time for them to be retired.

    It’s a question whose answer might change throughout the years. It was a much easier decision when we only needed to decide what to do with an old computer and a few peripherals. But now with mobile devices added to the mix, we have phones, tablets, wearables, etc. Our disposal plan might change along with the times, the more devices we accumulate, both individually and as a society. We asked our writers, “How Do You Get Rid of Old Tech Devices?

    Our Opinion

    For Simon it first depends on whether or not he wants to let go, as he notes, “I have an awful penchant of keeping old devices ‘just in case.’ “ He’s not quite sure why he’ll ever need an “ancient” Android phone, but he’s still holding onto it away. But once he does decide to get rid of them, they usually go into the recycling. Many places will allow you to send in devices that they’ll recycle for you, but with bigger machines, “it’s often a trip to a nearby recycling plant to properly dispose of them.”

    Alex does his best to “recycle all my junk electronics” and notes that Best Buy has a great program. You can drop off a box of various electronics there, and they’ll take care of it for you. But if he has a device that is still working, he likes to “try and pawn it off on a friend or family member.” Sometimes he repurposes them, such as an HTC One M7 that he has revived and now uses as a dedicated podcast device.

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    Phil hangs on to almost everything as he sees himself as a “lifetime maker and taker-aparter of gadgets.” He reuses cases for future projects and “frankensteins” things together, such as turning a USB passthrough and a power bank into an “impromptu e-cig battery with the help of some hot glue and cable ties.” They have municipal dumps in the U.K. that recycle TVs, monitors, and computers, but he believes all they do is just ship them to China.

    Robert sells or gets rid of mostly all of his old tech devices for the most part, though sometimes old computers and parts will get used to build a basic computer or similar for his parents. He admits, though, to some degree of “seller’s remorse” for things like game consoles or even smartphones to a lesser extent. “Holding onto them would offer a certain degree of sentimental value.”

    Derrik seems to do a combination of all the above methods, and I wish that’s what I did, but in reality, I just end up hanging onto them. We say we’ll recycle, but we never get around to it. I have old computers stored around the house in various degrees of working order. I like to hold on to old phones and tablets as a backup, but often my son borrows them when he breaks his, and then breaks those, and I never see them again.

    Your Opinion

    Certainly this is a topic you can weigh in on. Everyone has old devices, such as mobiles, computers, peripherals, etc. What do you do with them? Recycle? Give them away? Sell them? Just keep them around? How do you get rid of your old tech devices? Join our conversation below in the comments and let us know!

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    When you’re selling, donating, or recycling a computer, it’s critical that you ensure you’re not accidentally giving someone else access to your personal and private data stored on the computer. One way to do that is to thoroughly wipe (not simply erase) your old hard drive — for details on how to do that, see our article on fully wiping your computer’s hard drive.

    You can go further, though. For the ultimate personal security, you can remove the hard drive from your computer before you give it away and destroy the drive. That’s not as hard as it sounds, and ensures your old data is completely inaccessible to anyone ever again.

    The tools you’ll need to remove and destroy a hard drive

    You don’t need much to disassemble and ruin a hard drive:

    • A Torx screwdriver to open the case
    • A flathead screwdriver to pry open the case

    How to find and remove the hard drive from your computer

    Start by removing the hard drive from your PC. If you have a desktop or tower PC, unplug it and remove the cover or side panel (some cases are toolless and you only need to loosen some restraints, while others might require a screwdriver to remove screws).

    Look for the hard drive, which will be inserted in a drive bay or screwed to the side of the chassis. In most cases, you can simply disconnect the power and data cables and slide the drive out of the computer, but it might be screwed in place, in which case you’ll need to use a Philips head screwdriver to get it out of the PC.

    If you have a laptop, you might need to refer to your user guide or contact the laptop’s customer support for information on how to remove the hard drive – the access panel might be on the bottom of the case or you might need to remove the keyboard to reach the hard drive.

    How to destroy a hard drive the fast way

    If you’re in a hurry, you can damage it in a way that only a dedicated hacker will be able to recover any data.

    1. Flip the hard drive over so you can see the main circuit board.

    2. Use a Torx driver to unscrew the circuit board using the four Torx screws.

    3. Remove the board, break it in half, and discard it.

    4. Now you can recycle the hard drive knowing that someone can’t simply connect the drive to another PC to read its data, so it’s safe from casual users.

    How to destroy a hard drive the thorough way

    If you are going to take the time to get your Torx driver and remove the circuit board, you might as well be thorough, since it only takes another five minutes to completely destroy the drive.

    1. Remove the Torx screws around the outside edge of the top plate on the hard drive case.

    2. There will usually be one additional “hidden” Torx screw under the paper label. Feel around with your finger for a depression and then use a flathead screwdriver to tear the label away. Then use the Torx driver to remove the final screw.

    3. Pull the top plate off. You’ll probably need to pry it off with the flathead screwdriver. If it’s extremely hard to remove, make sure there isn’t an additional screw holding it together.

    4. Now you can see the hard drive platters – there might be several of them stacked atop one another, each with its own read/write head which looks sort of like a phonograph’s tone arm.

    5. Continue to disassemble the internal components by removing the tone arm and the platters themselves. There will probably be about three Torx screws on the spindle holding the platters in place.

    6. At this point, the very act of exposing the platters to air and handling them with unprotected fingers has almost certainly destroyed the data on the drive. To be thorough, use a flathead screwdriver to scratch the surface of each platter. Now anyone would be hard-pressed to recover anything of value from this drive.

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    With all the devices that have taken over our home, it’s difficult to keep track of which cable goes to which device. You end up with dozens of old cables lying around, and you don’t even know if any of them are necessary. What should you do? Throw them out, or hold on to them for future use?

    If you’re not sure how to start untangling that mysteriously growing ball of old cables, we can help. Let’s begin by getting ourselves acquainted with these cables you need to keep for any electronic emergencies:

    Old Cables Worth Keeping

    Micro-USB Cable

    Everything from smartphones to tablet chargers uses this connector. It’s even used for supplying power to streaming media devices as well as smart gadgets like the Amazon Echo Dot. We simply can’t deny that the Micro-USB connection is still as popular as ever, so they’re definitely worth keeping.

    DisplayPort Cable

    Business laptops, older televisions, and several computer monitors still use the standard DisplayPort. Although not as common as HDMI cables, they’re still used in typical A/V systems so it may be too soon to toss them. Not only does this cable support multiple video streams, the newer ones also support 8K monitors. It’s interesting to note, though, that many of the latest notebooks have made the switch to Mini DisplayPort cables.

    Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort Cable

    It’s easy to confuse Thunderbolt for a Mini DisplayPort so to identify one from the other, know more about these identical connectors. Either way, having one or both probably means that you had to connect a number of Apple devices together. If you have Thunderbolt 1 and 2 adapters, it may be too soon to get rid of them. They’ll continue to work with existing and upcoming Apple devices. On the other hand, Mini DisplayPort cables and adapters readily plug into Thunderbolt 1 and 2 ports so you can keep them, too. But take caution: Mini DisplayPorts aren’t compatible with the newer Apple products.

    Mini-USB Cable

    Take a good look around and we’re sure you’ll see cameras, hard drives, and microphones that charge using a Mini-USB. Frankly, though, it won’t be long before it becomes obsolete as it’s almost completely replaced by Micro-USB connectors. Still, you’d be wise to keep a few in handy. They’ll be very useful when you plan to use a burner phone during your international travels. Plus, we’re quite sure you still have a few old devices that need this cable to charge.

    3.5mm Auxiliary Cable

    Arguably, this type of connection is among the most ubiquitous today. Any audio-enabled device you have uses an aux cable. Think about computers, car stereos, smartphones, home theaters, tablets, TVs, monitors, and even armrests on airline seats. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the micro-plug used in analog headphone ports. So it won’t hurt to keep a few of these around the house.

    3-Prong Trapezoid Computer Power Cord

    The connector used for computer and peripheral power for decades, this standard AC plug is still used by desktop computers everywhere. Laptops may have taken over as a preferred workstation, but this standard is still critical as long as you’ve got a tower PC. It goes without saying that you’d be wise to have a spare kept somewhere.

    USB version 2 A-B cables

    These are the classic USB cables with a “house-shaped” connector on one end and a rectangular, spade-shaped connector on the other. This is commonly utilized in printers, old hard drives, and even some audio devices. Hang on to a couple of these for now, especially when you own the gadgets we’ve just mentioned.

    2-Prong Power Cord

    It used to be so easy finding this connected to a lot of different devices in the past. Unfortunately, they’re not as common nowadays. Although camera chargers still use this cable, they’re not the only one. Others like multi-phone chargers use them, too. With that, it certainly wouldn’t hurt having one stored just in case.

    Cat 5 and 6 cables

    If their names don’t ring a bell, remember these two are the Ethernet cables you plug into your router and computer. If you ask us whether these two should be kep, our answer is a definite “YES”. As it turns out, even the best home printers need Ethernet cables like these.

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    Old Cables You Can Recycle Safely

    DVI cable

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    For the most part, widespread incompatibility with various electronic equipment and inferior technology is rendering this cable useless. Most of us are using HDMI on our computer monitors because they are far superior display connectors than DVI. Safe to say, this video-only connector is practically obsolete.

    S-Video cable

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    An old analog connector for standard definition videos has no place in a world where high-definition is the norm. Yes, we’re referring to the S-Video cable. There’s a high probability that you don’t have any more equipment that works with this largely obsolete technology.

    USB 3 Micro-B cable

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    Sure, you see this odd-looking connection in external hard drives and a couple of devices. However, if you don’t own such gadgets, chances are that you’ll find them anything but useful. With the slimmer and versatile USB Type-C rolling out sooner than expected, we won’t be surprised if the USB 3 Micro-B cable will be phased out sooner, as well.

    VGA cable

    How to safely dispose of (or sell) smarthome hardware

    Hang on to it if you still have a working albeit ancient VGA-only monitor. If you don’t have one, there’s no point keeping this around. VGA is already an old analog technology and you won’t find any more devices using it nowadays. Worse, the cable doesn’t work well with the widely used LCD monitors.

    It may be high time to untangle that massive ball of old cables tucked inside your cabinet. And when you do, this list can help you determine which cables will have to go and which ones may stay. By separating the wheat from the chaff, you keep your electronic stuff from remaining total eyesores. Besides, who likes clutter, anyway?